The central Mumbai area of former mill-lands, where a deadly stampede had occurred in September, on Friday witnessed another tragedy in the last week of 2017 with 14 people dying in tragic Kamala Mills fire past midnight.
The victims of the blaze included a woman celebrating her 29th birthday and many of her friends, officials said.
As much as 54 people were injured and admitted to various hospitals for treatment, out of which 41 have been discharged.
The police registered a case of culpable homicide against three people including pub owners, while the civic body suspended five of its officials.
The fire started after 12.30 am at the “1 Above” pub on the terrace of Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel, a commercial hub housing several offices including national television channels.
From “1 Above” it spread to Mojo pub on the third floor, one level below, said an official of the Mumbai civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Most victims died of asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM Hospital where the victims were brought.
CM Fadnavis orders in-depth probe, security audit of buildings
Speaking to reporters after visiting the building in Kamala Mill Compound in Lower Parel where the tragedy took place past midnight, Fadnavis said he had ordered safety audit of all such structures in the city.
Officials have also been directed to demolish illegal structures, he added.
Fadnavis said he has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner to hold an enquiry and submit a report within 15 days.
Opposition blames “corrupt” Mumbai civic administration
The Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party slammed the Mumbai civic administration and the state government for the Kamala Mills fire that killed 14 people and injured several others.
Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged corrupt practices and functioning of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
He alleged the BJP-led dispensation in the state was ignoring corruption in the Sena-run BMC to ensure stability of the state government. The state is run by a BJP-Sena alliance government.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, demanding a probe, said the fire was a result of “clear violation of fire and safety norms”.
From hospital beds, fire survivors recount horror
Suffocation and not burn injuries were the cause behind most of the deaths in the Kamala Mills compound fire, according to the survivors undergoing treatment at civic hospitals in Mumbai.
“When fire broke out at the ‘1Above’ pub, we rushed to exit the place but there was a stampede as the exit gate was narrow,” a survivor admitted to the KEM hospital said.
“I suffered 20 per cent burns, while my cousin suffered 35 per cent burns,” he said.
Another survivor, S Arora, said she and her group of friends, who were at the pub, noticed a small fire. “Within moments, the entire rooftop, where the pub was located, was engulfed in flames,” she said.
“As the fire broke out, most of the people locked themselves in the washroom of the restaurant to escape the blaze.
“The smoke must have gone to their nose and mouth. Thus, the cause of death was suffocation and not burn injuries,” Harish Pathak, the head of the forensic department at the KEM hospital said.